The personal statement is one of the most frustrating and anxiety-provoking elements of the application process. Definitely do NOT procrastinate on this key piece of your app. To write the best personal statement that represents you in your best light, you should sit down well ahead of the due date to allow for adequate time in brainstorming, contemplation, revisions, and revisiting your work with a fresh perspective.
A personal statement should be just that – personal. Make it a story about you. This is your opportunity to show your story or something else worthwhile that the admissions committee would not otherwise learn from your application. A common mistake is writing a narrative version of your C.V. – this is boring, ineffective, and will not leave a good impression. However, you should still highlight certain elements that were instrumental in your path to medicine.
First, make an outline of both your academic and personal accomplishments. This includes research, volunteer work, hobbies, organizations you were involved with, travel, or other extracurriculars.
Next, figure out what you’re looking for in a program. There is a wide array of program types. Figure out what is the best fit for you. If your underlying drive is to practice medicine in underrepresented communities, let that shine through in your essay.
Things to Do
- Engage the reader in the first sentence. Whether it is by conveying your passion or hooking the reader in with an interesting story, be sure to capture their attention.
- Show, don’t tell. Telling a story is boring and dull. Do not tell the reader how passionate you are about medicine. Instead, show them with concrete examples that illustrate your journey to medicine.
- What skills or qualities do you possess that would make you a good physician? What sets you apart from other applicants?
- Be concise and direct. There is no need for flowery language or fillers that you used in high school English. Be sure to use your words efficiently in the weaving of your story.
Things NOT to Do
- Do not overuse the word “I”. With excess use of the word “I”, you are more likely to list accomplishments and tell a story. Instead, paint a picture and show the reader.
- Do not list your accomplishments or rehash your C.V.
- Do not tell a physician what medicine is all about. This will more often than not depict a superficial understanding of the field. The admissions committee already knows what medicine is about, but they do not know about you.
Reviewing and Editing
After finishing your first draft, take some time away from your personal statement. After a few days, come back to it with a fresh perspective. Read your essay out loud. Doing so will reaffirm parts of your essay that you enjoy, and bring to light some of the aspects that you could change. There will be things you like, but also many things you will not like. Anticipate multiple edits. Avoid getting attached to a particular sentence or paragraph. Especially in the early stages, do not be afraid to scrap it and restart.
Seek out advice and edits from friends, colleagues, and mentors – people that know your body of work and accomplishments well. These insights can be helpful in determining what items to emphasize and what to drop. Even better, ask experts to review your essay – doctors who have actually served on medical school admissions committees in the past. Med School Insiders offers a premium Personal Statement Editing Service where real doctors with admission committee experience will provide feedback and edits on your essay. Each physician editor has passed a rigorous screening process to ensure that you receive the best quality results. Check it out and let us know what you think! You’ll be happy you did.